The Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA) process was developed to provide municipalities with a risk-based approach to comply with the Environmental Assessment Act for both capital projects and infrastructure maintenance activities. However, the time and financial cost has come to outweigh the benefit. Without speedy reform, Ontario municipalities risk losing out on funding for projects that are subject to the MCEA process. This simply is neither proper infrastructure planning nor good asset management.
Since the Municipal Engineers Association first developed the MCEA, the process has become more complex, resulting in delayed projects, and significantly increasing costs. A 2014 study showed that it was typically taking almost 27 months to complete the process for certain projects with study and consultant costs averaging $386,500 – exclusive of municipal staff time.
A coalition of EA stakeholders have been pressing the Government of Ontario to make changes for a number of years. The province responded in mid-2020 by proposing to scrap the Class EA process and replace it with new streamlined regulations with consistent and standardized processes that focus on projects with the potential to impact the environment. A consultation process is underway on how best to implement this.
If your organization would like to contribute to the consultation, please reach out directly to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks at EAModernization.MECP@ontario.ca.